“You need to understand that we’ve got 20 to 25,000 Australians who will die this year because of COVID, a good 15 percent increase on our normal death rate. These are people who would otherwise have lived. I didn’t hear that really stressed today.”
Australia is being engulfed by a fourth wave of COVID-19 in a year. Hospitalisations hit 5,133 on 19 July—a surge of more than 50 percent since the start of the month. Ambulance services are overwhelmed. COVID-19 is one of the leading causes of death in Australia right now, with 77 deaths recorded on 15 July. Credible estimates of the extent of “long covid” start at 400,000.
Australian governments and their counterparts around the world have largely succeeded in desensitising us to avoidable mass deaths and disease. In the week to 6 July, 294 people died of COVID-19 in Australia, more than 40 a day.
If you listened only to the world’s political and business leaders, you could be forgiven for thinking that the pandemic is all but over. Or, in the most repeated words of the last twelve months, that we’re “learning to live with it”.
Some societies value old people. Australian capitalism shovels them away in an underfunded, largely privatised and deregulated aged care system. And now, that system is killing them wholesale.
Nurses and midwives across New South Wales are striking on 15 February. With 73,000 members—48,000 of which work in public hospitals—the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) is the largest union in the state.